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Martin Luther King III and Rev. Al Sharpton. Photo: Cheriss May/Getty Images

Civil rights leaders from Washington to Phoenix are planning marches on Aug. 28 to push Congress to pass new protections around voting rights.

Why it matters: A landmark voting rights proposal remains stalled in the U.S. Senate, as Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and other moderates block efforts at filibuster reforms to advance a bill held up by Republicans.

Details: Martin Luther King III, Rev. Al Sharpton and Alejandro Chavez (the grandson of César Chavez) are spearheading peaceful, multiethnic marches in five cities in states where legislators recently passed voting restrictions.

  • Marches are scheduled in Atlanta, Houston, Miami and Phoenix to coincide with a national march in Washington.
  • More than two dozen "sister marches" also are being organized in other cities to support federal legislation to protect voting rights.
  • Advocates say the marches are necessary to put pressure on Congress to move on the legislation before the 2022 midterms, when voting restrictions in many states are set to begin.

What they're saying: "On the 28th, we're going to be in thousands upon thousands in the streets, [and] we got to keep pushing until America becomes the America it ought to be," King said during a press call on Thursday.

  • Sharpton said the marches will be peaceful, unlike the Jan. 6 protests by Trump supporters who would go on to attack the Capitol.
  • "People [who] are coming understand they're coming in the spirit of Dr. King, they're coming in the spirit of César Chavez. If you don't have that spirit, you're not invited down," Sharpton said.

Between the lines: Advocates feel they are in a race against time as Republican-controlled legislatures wait for the U.S. Census to release new data to draw new congressional districts.

  • Civil rights advocates want Congress to act quickly on new voting rights legislation to prevent Republicans from gerrymandering districts that would give the GOP a better shot at taking the U.S. House in 2022. That would stall voting rights proposals even longer.

The big picture: The Supreme Court last month upheld a pair of voting restrictions in Arizona, likely paving the way for new limitations across the country.

Go deeper

Democrats sound alarms in state legislatures

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Democrats are leaning into efforts to raise their numbers in state legislatures — with an emphasis on candidates of color — as red states like Texas and Georgia pass restrictive voting and abortion laws.

Why it matters: States are responsible for many of the laws with the greatest direct impact on people's daily lives. But Republicans control 30 state legislatures and the GOP has the trifecta — the governorship, state House and state Senate control — in 23 states, while Democrats do in 15.

26 mins ago - Health

Other drug companies want to help make the vaccines

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Generic drug companies have asked Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to license their COVID-19 vaccine technology to help increase global production, but so far the vaccine makers have given them the cold shoulder.

Why it matters: Other companies are saying they have extra capacity to make more vaccines. Not using that extra capacity could prolong the pandemic throughout the world.

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.